Filosophi’s Erin Bishop shares her best tips for easy summer entertaining.

Erin Bishop, founder of event planning firm Filosophi, is known for throwing elaborate parties with a major wow factor. Like one Alice in Wonderland-esque wedding, where hundreds of guests were relocated down the rabbit hole from the Hotel Georgia to an art gallery across the way. Or the time she floated countless jumbo balloons over a client’s pool—picture three foot white spheres, suspended over still water.But for a casual get together at this time of year, Bishop prefers to keep things simple. “Good music, good food, good booze,” she says, counting off the essentials for any patio party or summer soiree. Below, the event planner elaborates on that simple recipe so that you can wow your guests with an epic summer send-off—and enjoy yourself at the same time.

1. Set the Bar

Keep booze out of the kitchen to avoid major traffic jams. “People will stay near the bar,” Bishop says, “so put it where you want the heart of the party to be.”

2. Summer Sips

“Sangria is easy because you can prep it in large batches…and it’s delicious,” Bishop laughs. This Vancouver-based event planner likes to have an assortment of local beers available too—Brassneck growlers are a personal favourite. (Get the recipe for Watermelon Sangria!)

3. Managing the Menu

Potlucks may seem easiest, but they bring headaches of their own. “There’s always a bit of finagling to make sure you don’t end up with thirty salads,” says Bishop. A few pick-up platters from a local caterer can help to supplement the feast.

4. Portion Control

When it comes to the menu, think miniature—tiny tacos or half-size skewers. That way, “people can graze on lots of different options. Everyone loves a mini in the summer, and they’re cute too!”

5. Liven Up

Scrap the playlist and consider live music instead, even if it’s just one guy with an acoustic guitar. “There’s something about a person performing that’s a little more special than hearing something recorded,” Bishop explains, “and it’s something to watch as well as listen to!”

6. Night Light

Augment that dusky midsummer light with candles around the fire pit or floating in the pool. String lighting works well outdoors and adds a touch of whimsical charm.

7. Decked Out?

“Focus on a few key areas for decor rather than trying to blanket your whole home,” Bishop suggests. The bar, buffet, and entryway are prime spots, so concentrate your decorating efforts here—you’ll maximize impact.

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